What is Skin Glycation?
Skin glycation is a condition where sugar molecules attach themselves to the collagen proteins in your skin, making the skin stiff and inflexible.
The attachment of sugars to the collagen fibers results in the release of Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs).
AGEs make the skin rigid and contribute to skin aging. Glycation is a normal process that starts after the age of 20 and intensifies with time. Consuming sugary foods and drinks seems to accelerate the condition.
As AGEs get accumulated in your skin, your skin starts aging quickly. Excessive AGEs in the body are also bio-markers for other health conditions like diabetes, renal diseases, and Alzheimer’s disease.
How Does Genetics Contribute to Glycation?
GLO1 Gene and Glycation
The GLO1 gene contains instructions for the production of the glyoxalase 1 (GLO1) enzyme. This enzyme protects the body from different types of AGEs. A decrease in enzyme production can increase AGEs in the body and lead to the glycation of the skin.
A Single Nucleotide Polymorphism or SNP in the GLO1 gene is associated with GLO1 enzyme production. The TT and CT genotypes of rs1049346 SNP cause a decrease in GLO1 enzyme activity in the blood and increases the chances of skin glycation.
Non-genetic Factors Influencing Glycation
Overexposure to UV radiation increases the chances of developing intense glycation. Studies show that younger individuals with no prior AGE accumulation had increased accumulation of AGEs in the areas of the skin exposed to UV rays
Both active and passive smoking can accelerate the production of AGEs in the skin and quicken the process of glycation. Smoking also results in other aging symptoms, including the formation of pigmentation and wrinkles.
What you eat and how you eat matter to your skin.
- Sugary food and drinks increase the AGE count
- Fried foods have higher amounts of AGEs than steamed or boiled foods
- Foods higher in Glycemic Index (GI) increase AGE production
Up to 30% of AGEs you ingest can get absorbed by the body and result in skin glycation and other health conditions.
As expected, the amount of AGEs in younger individuals is lesser than that of older men and women. AGE count increases as you age.
Advanced and chronic diabetes mellitus can promote the formation of AGEs in the body. These result in glycation in the skin.
Effects Of Extreme Skin Glycation
- Appearance of wrinkles
- Skin breakouts (appearance of acne)
- Skin starts to sag and becomes loose
- Skin looks tired and loses its radiance
- Compromised skin barrier function leading to excessive dryness
- Loss of facial volume
- Quicker aging of the skin
Recommendations To Prevent Effects Of Glycation
Bring Down Sugar Intake
The most obvious recommendation to prevent glycation is to consume lesser sugar. Be aware of hidden sugars in all the foods that you eat. Check out other names for sugars mentioned in the back of food and beverage packs, and stay away from them too.
Stress can make glycation symptoms worse and aid in quickening the skin aging process.
Use Sunscreens and Protective Gear
Use a good quality SPF-based sunscreen. Reapply the product liberally every 3-4 hours if you are outdoors. Using caps, scarves, gloves, and hats to prevent UV radiation from affecting the skin is also a smart move.
Get help to quit smoking. This will make your skin healthier.
Sleep helps regulate your insulin levels. Sleep deprivation can decrease glucose tolerance, and this increases the chances of developing glycation. It is recommended to get 6-8 hours of deep sleep a day.
Control Your Blood Sugars
If you have diabetes, make sure the HbA1c values are at the lower end and that there are no sudden spikes and falls in blood sugar levels.
Natural Remedies for Glycation
Certain natural food sources seem to eliminate AGEs in the body and prevent glycation. Some of them are pomegranates and wild berries.
Commercial Skincare Products
Most commercial anti-AGE skincare products contain two ingredients - alisin and aminoguanidine. Both do help bring down AGE levels in the skin to some extent. None of the products work 100%, though. It is advised to get a professional recommendation before trying out any skin products.
- Glycation is a process of sugar molecules attaching themselves to fat and protein molecules in the body.
- When sugar molecules attach themselves to your collagen proteins and fibers, the result is the formation of Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs).
- Glycation is a natural process that happens after 20 years of age. It is made more severe because of certain gene modifications, a bad diet, UV exposure, and habits like smoking.
- The GLO1 gene variations cause decreased GLO1 enzyme production in the body. The GLO1 enzyme protects the body against AGEs. Certain polymorphisms in the GLO1 gene increase the risk of early skin glycation.
- Skin glycation leads to skin becoming loose and saggy, the appearance of wrinkles and acne, and makes skin dry, tired, and dull.
- Bringing down sugar intake, using SPF-based skincare products, keeping your blood sugar levels controlled, and trying out natural and cosmetic anti-AGEing products can help control the condition.